Slike strani
PDF
ePub

WASHINGTON, Oct. 21, 1862-3 P. M. Your telegram of 12 M. has been submitted to the President. He directs me to say, that he has no change to make in his order of the 6th inst. If you have not been, and are not now in condition to obey it, you will be able to show such want of ability. The President does not expect impossibilities; but he is very anxious that all this good weather should not be wasted in inactivity.

Telegraph when you will move, and on what lines you propose to march.

[ocr errors]

MAJ.-GEN. G. B. MCCLELLAN.

H. W. HALLECK,
General-in-Chief.

"From the tenor of this dispatch I conceived that it was left for my judgment to decide whether or not it was possible to move with safety to the army at that time, and this responsibility I exercised with the more confidence, in view of the strong assurance of his trust in me as commander of that army, with which the President had seen fit to honor me during his last visit.

"The cavalry requirements, without which an advance would have been in the highest degree injudicious and unsafe, were still wanting. The country before us was an enemy's country, where the inhabitants furnished to the enemy every possible assistance, providing food for men and forage for animals, giving all information concerning our movements, and rendering every aid in their power to the enemy's cause. It was manifest that we should find it, as we subsequently did, a hostile district, where we could derive no aïd from the inhabitants, that would justify dispensing with the active co-operation of an efficient cavalry force. Accordingly, I fixed upon the 1st of November as the earliest date at which the forward movement could well be commenced.

"The general-in-chief, in a letter to the secretary of war on the 28th of October, says: 'In my opinion there has been no such want of supplies in the army under General McClellan as to prevent his compliance with the orders to advance against the enemy.'

"Notwithstanding this opinion expressed by such high authority, I am compelled to say again that the delay in the reception of necessary supplies up to that date, had left the army in a condition totally unfit to advance against the enemy; that an advance under the existing circumstances would, in my judgment, have been attended with the highest degree of peril, with great suffering and sickness among the men, and with imminent danger of being cut off from our supplies by the superior cavalry force of the enemy, and with no reasonable prospect of gaining any advantage over him.

"I dismiss this subject with the remark, that I have found it impossible to resist the force of my own convictions, that the commander of an army who, from the time of its organization, has, for eighteen months, been in constant communication with its officers and men, the greater part of the time engaged in active service in the field, and who has exercised this command in many battles, must certainly be considered competent to determine whether his army is in proper condition to advance on the enemy or not; and he must necessarily possess greater facilities for forming a correct judgment in regard to the wants of his men, and the condition of his supplies, than the generalin-chief in his office at Washington city."

Before moving upon the enemy, General McClellan was extremely anxious so to guard the line of the Potomac as to put a stop to the possibility of those raids by the Shenandoah, which have since inflicted, through three consecutive years, so much shame upon our army, and so much loss upon the people of the Pennsylvania and Maryland border. The importance of taking these precautions was increased in the mind of General

McClellan by the fact that Bragg's rebel army was then at liberty to reinforce Lee, and so to enable him to do precisely what he has since done, not once nor twice, but regularly with the recurrence of the harvest season of the Shenandoah.

General McClellan urged this matter upon General Halleck at Washington. The only reply which the general-in-chief vouchsafed was the information that "no appropriation existed for permanent intrenchments," and a silly sneer to the effect that Bragg was four hundred miles away while Lee was but twenty.

On the 26th of October the army finally began to cross the Potomac, and marching on a line east of the Blue Ridge, by the 7th of November its several corps were massed at and near Warrenton. "The army," says General McClellan, "was in admirable condition and spirits. I doubt whether during the whole period that I had the honor to command the Army of the Potomac it was ever in such excellent condition to fight a great battle." The Confederates, under Longstreet, were directly in front at Culpepper, and the rest of Lee's army lay west of the Blue Ridge. The army and its general alike expected, with confidence and hope, the issue of a new and near impending passage-of-arms with their antagonists.

In this expectation the army and its general alike were destined to be disappointed.

Delivered from the terror of Lee's presence in the North; reassured for the safety of Washington by the position of the army, and persuaded that victory must crown its next efforts, the administration seem to have judged the moment come for striking down the general whom they hated, as men hate those whom they have injured.

Late on the night of November 7th, 1862, in a storm of wind and rain, General Buckingham, arriving post haste from Washington, reached the tent of General McClellan at Rectortown. He found the commander surrounded by his staff and

by some of the generals of the army, and handed him a despatch of which he was the bearer.

Opening the despatch and reading it without a change of countenance or of voice, General McClellan passed over to General Burnside a paper which it contained, saying, as he did so, "Well, Burnside, you are to command the army."

CHAPTER XIII.

NOMINATION OF GENERAL MCCLELLAN TO THE PRESIDENCY.
DUCT OF THE WAR. MR. LINCOLN AND HIS AULIC COUNCIL. GENERAL
MCCLELLAN'S POLICY OF THE WAR. HIS TRUE RECORD AS A COM-
MANDER.

THE CON

ON the 28th of August, 1864, two years after his final removal from the command of the Army of the Potomac, General McClellan received at Chicago a unanimous nomination from one of the largest political conventions ever assembled in America, as the candidate of the Democratic party for the Presidency of the United States.

During those years the conduct of the war for the Union had been surrendered up entirely into the control of those Aulic councillors of President Lincoln whose efforts to undermine the military and the political influence of General McClellan at Washington we have seen beginning almost at the moment of his nomination to the command-in-chief of the national armies in November, 1861, remorselessly prosecuted during the whole campaign of the Peninsula, and finally triumphant after the campaign of Maryland in November, 1862.

Under the control of these councillors the Republic had gradually become one vast camp. Armies such as the civilized world had never seen arrayed for battle since the downfall of the first Napoleon, had been summoned into the field. The debt of the nation and of the States had been swelled to proportions rivalling the burdens imposed by the ambition and the

« PrejšnjaNaprej »